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Lotus Driving Academy closed today.....


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JMG told me a new engine,  from idea to build facility can be up to £1bn. 

88 Esprit NA, 89 Esprit Turbo SE, Evora, Evora S, Evora IPS, Evora S IPS, Evora S IPS SR, Evora 400, Elise S1, Elise S1 111s, Evora GT410 Sport

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On 20/10/2016 at 13:59, Bravo73 said:

I am also very local to the factory at Hethel. My next door neighbour is a Parish councillor so I will ask her if she can tell me anything. I certainly haven't heard (or been told) anything and most (if not all) of my neighbours know that I have a Lotus.

I managed to have a chat with my neighbour and this is what I've been told. There was recently a complaint from a local that was passed to the Parish council. (I don't know the specific nature of the complaint or exactly where it came from). The Parish council passed this complaint onto South Norfolk council.

South Norfolk council is obviously in discussion with Lotus regarding the test track, it's use and the noise levels at different times of the week (as they have been for years). The immediate impact of this particular complaint was to cancel the Magnitude event. I don't know whether this was mandated by the Council or whether this was volunteered by Lotus. (My personal suspicion was that the Magnitude event specifically was cancelled because, as I understand it, they are slightly bigger than other trackdays with more cars and other attendees). Unfortunately, my Councillor couldn't attend the last Parish Council meeting so couldn't confirm any recent developments. However, I have been invited to attend the next Parish council meeting which I intend to do. I intend to inject a little bit of balance into the discussion i.e. Lotus has been at Hethel for 50 years now which is longer than I suspect >90% of the locals.

However, most of these complaints and disagreements seem to stem from what is considered to be a 'fair and reasonable' use of a test track. Hethel quite obviously isn't a race track (like Snetterton and elsewhere) so is it reasonable if there is an activity of some description on the track every weekend during spring, summer and autumn? Arguably, not. So a balance of sorts has to be achieved between the locals and Lotus. Lotus wants to maximise the revenue earning potential from an asset but I suppose has to accept that the track can't be used every weekend. The locals have to accept that during lots of weekends, there is going to be noise coming from the track. Just like there has been for the past 50 years!

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  • Gold FFM

One of our neighbours has a dirt motorbike track. He runs about 10 big sessions a year during the spring/summer months. He has no licence or planning etc. And doesn't need it - the sound of angry wasps in the distance on a few days a year really doesn't impact on life in any way !!

its always the nimbys which spoil it - and more often than not it's the newcomers to and area that whinge. 

Only here once

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On 17/10/2016 at 17:09, The Pits said:

The whole Malaysian thing didn't work out. The sale can't come soon enough. The trouble is, the industry is looking towards autonomous cars and hybrid tech. The (frankly quite baffling) success of the BMW i8 has shown that the punters think such things are cool and futuristic. As long as it looks cool they don't care too much about what's underneath. Hybrid, as you all know is not, in any way, a lightweight or efficient solution but if that's what the punters want, that's what they'll get. A small, simple, efficient, petrol powered sports car makes far more sense to engineers and for the world but hey look this two ton tub of lard has got an ipad in the dash, woo hoo! But since when did making sense have much to do with it? An estate car makes far more sense than an SUV and look what's happened to them...

Oi! as an owner of a 2* ton tub of lard with an iPad in the dash, I resemble that remark :D  (*Using the same set of scales Lotus uses, 2.4t+ is more like it for the AWD cars :o)

The i8 is an odd machine for sure, I looked at one, and a "hybrid garage" rather than a hybrid car made more sense. The new NSX is even stranger, without the all important electrical socket, it misses out on all the tax advantages the i8 has. (An i8 costs a fraction of an Exige as a company car)

This hybridisation/electrification has been clear to me for years, and while it goes against the grain of the Lotus ethos of lightness, it's unfortunately market reality (driven by legislation as much as consumer demand). Lotus had opportunity to address this, after all they have built a few electric cars already (Tesla Roadster, Detroit Electric, Dodge Circuit).  So while many have been calling for Esprits and other halo cars, I have suggested many a time on here, Lotus needs to sell an EV under their own banner, not just as a contract manufacturer.  The alternative is to continue even further down the path of "specialist niche manufacturer" of non SVA'd vehicles :( 

In my Utopian vision, Lotus would become a leader in EV engineering (in much the same way they are on the suspension side), enter Formula-E, and build a better version of the Tesla Roadster that was actually track capable. The Exige v6 is a far better platform than the Elise* was. (*Having looked at the Tesla Roadster quite carefully, I think it is actually Europa S based).

This would at a stroke also eliminate all the worries about noise limits ;)

 

 

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6 hours ago, simon mac said:

In my Utopian vision, Lotus would become a leader in EV engineering (in much the same way they are on the suspension side), enter Formula-E, and build a better version of the Tesla Roadster that was actually track capable. The Exige v6 is a far better platform than the Elise* was. (*Having looked at the Tesla Roadster quite carefully, I think it is actually Europa S based).

This would at a stroke also eliminate all the worries about noise limits ;)

 

 

FWIW, the Tesla Roadster had an Elise foundation and the Dodge EV was Europa-based but the point is well-taken. Lotus have had many opportunities to ride the EV/hybrid trends and could have innovated in those fields like many before. It seemed like many of Lotus' innovative exercises died on the vine even though they were timely: co-engineering EVs with Tesla and Dodge, the Eco-Exige, the bio-Exige, the 404 Evora with range extender, APV SUV, shaving a third of the weight off a Venza would've been transformative for a vehicle needing a battery pack. MJK got the Evora going but the car narrowly survived the DB era and since then the Lotus repertoire has just been a series of power upgrades, special editions, and Cup cars. Companies need good management to push marketable ideas and sell them to other companies as well as run with concepts they can sell on their own. While it seems that Lotus now are abandoning their sporting heritage with closure of LDA and Motorsport, it may also well be that they have clung to it too long for their own good. Did Lotus really need another Cup car, did it really need the 3-11, awesome as it is, and now with no Motorsport to support the niche that such cars live in? Lotus need innovative technology that sets them apart (as suggested, how about reducing unsprung weight and improving handling in EV/motor-per-wheel, regenerative braking drivetrains?) as well as a diverse line-up with vehicles they can sell in profitable numbers. VVA was innovative and was supposed to help to that. Exotics need stratospheric prices to maintain profit, or have entry level support like Ferrari has Fiat/ALFA (though also helps to have built a brand that can be marketed and licensed heavily, thanks in part to Dany). Like it or not, everyone else sells SUVs, crossovers, and hybrids to support their halo and sports cars because that's what's in demand. Other than lip service to an SUV, there doesn't seem to be much evidence to support a restructuring of Lotus for long term independence. I've got a mate who works in management and is mostly hired by companies to get their books and management structure in shape to sell the company at the best value to the owners or shareholders. He works in tech companies and this kind of thing is a way of life in the industry, and, when once in that mode, has little to do with the product they're putting out. He just has to look forward to changing jobs every couple of years. Despite his initial vibe, JMG seems to be leading Lotus more in that direction. Unfortunately, to the industry at large it looks a bit more like what we call a dumpster fire (skip fire?) so I fear we have an uneasy ride ahead and can only hope that the next phase of Lotus would be one that would allow it to flourish.

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Not wishing to sound like a DB fanboy, but he didn't look to kill Evora. If you own a MY12 Evora, you'll know that under the leadership team of the time they polished the product up to a much more robust level of quality and  performance (sound, perceived quality, actual performance.) The Evora that the new management team inherited was a great baseline product with a chassis that would suit multiple vehicles, but it was not hitting its development goals. The Lotus management team knew full well they needed the existing line to succeed to deliver results - as well as build the brand reputation - to see them through to 2013/14 before Esprit came on line, hence the investment in Evora MY12. The result was £160m of sales in 2011.  Looking at an article from January this year, reported revenues were £83.4m. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/industry/12095259/Lotus-on-the-road-to-recovery-as-losses-narrow.html

Its funny, people bemoan the lack of PR coming from Hethel, but as a marketer myself, I must say the PR machine is incredibly talented at creating positive spin. I mean that with true admiration.

 

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2 hours ago, yeller77 said:

FWIW, the Tesla Roadster had an Elise foundation and the Dodge EV was Europa-based but the point is well-taken. 

That was certainly the PR.  The thing that makes me wonder if it's not entirely true, is the lowered sills in the Roadster are much closer to the Europa tub, as well as some other small bits like the use of 5 stud hubs, etc. etc.   At the time Elon / JB were trying to put as much distance as they could between the Elise and Roadster as possible, so claiming they demanded the lower sills etc was IMHO probably a bit of bravado for their key US market where the Europa never sold.

 

2 hours ago, yeller77 said:

 I've got a mate who works in management and is mostly hired by companies to get their books and management structure in shape to sell the company at the best value to the owners or shareholders. He works in tech companies and this kind of thing is a way of life in the industry, and, when once in that mode, has little to do with the product they're putting out. He just has to look forward to changing jobs every couple of years. Despite his initial vibe, JMG seems to be leading Lotus more in that direction. Unfortunately, to the industry at large it looks a bit more like what we call a dumpster fire (skip fire?) so I fear we have an uneasy ride ahead and can only hope that the next phase of Lotus would be one that would allow it to flourish.

I've been on the other side of that game(recently selling a tech company), and I tend to agree, it looks like the business is being organised for "sale optics".  Get rid of anything that has legal ramifications, is non "core", boost attractive measures (volume and gross margins), etc. even if some is at odds with profit making. In many ways it's all about the "multipliers" rather than the actual profit. 

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Man that was a bit of a depressing read! I really hope a company with the capital and desire to take lotus forward buys the company. I really do believe there is a huge amount of potential for lotus to become every bit as aspirational to car enthusiasts as other brands. Fingers crossed. People love lotus (from my experience) they need a company with the finance and ability to capitalise on this passion and heritage of the brand. 

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What is wrong witht he work JMG has been putting forward? He has not only stabilized production, but actually got the numbers up. Lotus is for the first time in many years earning money selling cars. At the same time, it remains obvious that in the long term Lotus on itself can not survive. Even if profitable the funds to develop the next vehicle generation can not be earned out of selling a few thousand cars yearly.

JMG has both the industry knowledge and connections to give Lotus the best chance of making this happen. Its not that the potential buyers are stampeding through the doors in Hethel (or Malaysia), but the very fact that PSA has been included in the rumours can only be a result of JMG's former position as CEO there. 

If you have the choice between a Stairway to Heaven and a Highway to Hell don't forget the Nomex®!

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Just a slightly off topic note to my old adversary , The Pits, I've enjoyed my BMW i8 for just over a year now, so I know it pretty well, and in every way that I use it ( except Track days, where it is clearly hopeless ), it absolutely excels, it's super fast, super refined, super economical, fabulous MMI, and whilst I initially disliked its styling, it's grown on me. An amazing achievement  to make a thoroughly modern car, with so much functioning technology for such a low sticker price, added to which the Government then allow you to enjoy it as a company car for a comparatively tiny amount of CC tax, and allow a 100% write down in the first year of ownership, so Pits, its a "no brainer" for me !

My car is insured for any driver ( and I guess you are over 30 ? ), so when you are next at B&C, why not come up the hill and try mine, then your lack of understanding will mystically disappear and you will be able to speak about the car from a position of actual personal experience and not internet BS  ?

 

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This seems personal enough to warrant a private mail but no offence was intended regarding the i8, I had no idea you had one.

I look forward to the day when I consider £100k to be a low sticker price. Perhaps the car would make more sense to me from that perspective. 

My interest in driving an i8 is on a par with it's emissions but I appreciate the offer all the same.

Either way it's most definitely off topic and unnecessarily antagonistic so if you would like to continue to discuss this please do so by private mail. Thanks.

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I'm so glad I wasn't the only one thinking 100k was expensive! 

Vanya Stanisavljevic '91 Esprit SE | '97 XK8

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